Looking Beyond the Mirror – Meet Dana SmithFebruary 3, 2015
The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is committed to building conscious community and highlighting the work that inspiring yogis are doing in their local communities and beyond. We’re pleased to introduce you to Dana Smith, an active partner in the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.
What has yoga’s impact been on your body image?
After two kids 10 years apart my body has definitely gone through what I would call an evolution. With age, it changes and I find that the more I practice yoga the more I embrace the changes in my body.
When I find myself judging my body or picking myself apart I turn to yoga, meditation and prayer.
What does “healthy body image” mean to you?
A healthy body image incorporates mind, body and spirit. Mentally we truly believe and accept that there is no mold for the perfect body. In our bodies we set out to become our own individual best – which is NOT size exclusive. And spirit guides us and keeps us connected to others and accepting others.
Body positivity means celebrating the skin that you are in and not coveting your neighbor’s waistline. It means knowing that we all deserve to be represented. Body positive yoga looks like a sea of various shapes, sizes, ages and abilities practicing together without the lines drawn.
How can we as a society promote a healthy body image for all?
A culture that supports body positivity would work to include everyone and not set standards of beauty or of health. There would be an understanding that true health begins in the mind and acceptance of all is key.
How does your work address body image issues?
I am a yoga teacher and I promote body positivity by encouraging students to look past what they see in the mirror and celebrate their bodies as a beautiful shell for their soul. I encourage them to celebrate strengths and know that limitations don’t take away from the experience.
How would you describe yoga media (and pop culture’s) impact on body image ?
Popular media does not encourage others to celebrate their unique beauty. I find that they set out to make us want to change our body to fit in an impossible mold. It is our responsibility to tell the TRUE story. That yoga isn’t black, white, tall, short, thin or voluptuous… it is EVERYbody.
Describe one of your transformational moments on your mat.
Every time I step onto my mat I have a transformational moment. I bring my fear and insecurities to my mat and work it out. Whenever I feel less than I take to my mat to connect to my truth – I am everything and enough.
Who are your yoga role models (if any)? Why?
Though the years I have added to the long list. But I will start from the beginning of my practice with Shiva Rea. Practicing with her inspired me to take my yoga out of the box. To feel my spirit move as my body moves.
What does self-empowerment mean to you?
Self-empowerment to me means to live from my soul. My soul is my inner strength, my inspiration, my power. In this space I don’t have to look outside of myself for what I need to move forward. I have it all within and it is there always. Being self-empowered means inspiring others to do the same.
If you could say 1 thing to your younger Self, what would it be?
You are not in it by yourself but it all starts with you. Be open, be courageous, the best is yet to come.
Dana Smith is a certified yoga teacher and trainer, Master Life Coach and Holistic Health Practitioner specializing in Reiki and Thai Yoga Massage. She believes that yoga is a powerful tool on the path of total wellness and all can practice regardless of size, age or ability. In an effort to show the beautiful diversity that is yoga she released her first book YES! Yoga Has Curves which highlights the practice and stories of 45 women of all beautiful shapes and sizes.